Stanford tops list as most innovative university

Stanford University muscles out Ivy League peers of the top spot for Reuters’ inaugural innovative university rankings.

Stanford University has been named the world’s most innovative university, according to a ranking conducted by news provider Reuters.

The Silicon Valley-based institution beat Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, second and third respectively, and other Ivy League peers in a table dominated by US institutions at the top. Only one non-US university, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, made the top ten.

Imperial College London, placed at 11th, is the highest ranked university in Europe, with KU Leaven at 16 and Cambridge University at 25. Switzerland, which was recently named as the world’s most innovative country for the fifth year running in the Global Innovation Index, also performed well. With a population of 8 million and three of its institutions in the top 100, it has the most innovative universities per capita in the world.

To compile the list, Reuters took data from its sister publication Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property & Science and its research platforms: InCites, Web of Science, Derwent Innovations Index, Derwent World Patents Index, and Patents Citation Index.

The initial process saw Reuters whittle down a list of the 500 academic institutions which have produced the greatest number of scholarly journals recorded by Reuters by keeping just the institutions which filed 70 or more patents over the 2008 to 2015 period.

Those which remained were ranked by ten criteria: the number of patents, the ratio of patent applications to grants, how many patents went global, citations of patents, the impact of those citations, the percentage of patents cited, patent to article citation impact, industry article citation impact, percentage of articles made in collaboration with industry, and total number of web of science papers.

Factors such as number of spinouts, number of startups, top flight academics and students attracted, jobs created within a university’s ecosystem, incubator services, and funding attracted were not taken into consideration. Entire university systems, such as California and Texas, were assessed as a single entry.

The top ten universities are:

  1. Stanford University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  3. Harvard University
  4. University of Washington
  5. University of Michigan System
  6. Northwestern University
  7. University of Texas System
  8. University of Wisconsin System
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST)

See more from this Government Report: US


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